News you may have missed #544

Google

Google

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Russia a ‘leading suspect’ in cyberespionage attack on US. I wrote on Monday about the cyberespionage operation that targeted a leading US defense contractor last March, and resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of classified documents. US Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, who disclosed the operation, said only that it was conducted by “a foreign intelligence service”. According to the last sentence of this NBC report, US officials see Russian intelligence as “one of the leading suspects” in the attack. ►►Al-Qaeda acquires Pakistani spy service manuals. Jamestown Foundation researcher Abdul Hameed Bakier reports that al-Qaeda operatives have managed to get access to espionage training manuals used by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI). Copies of the documents have apparently been posted on Internet forums that are sympathetic to al-Qaeda, and bear the mark of the As-Sahab Foundation, al-Qaeda’s media wing. ►►Google-NSA collaboration documents to remain secret —for now. Even before Google shut down its operations in China, following a massive cyberattack against its servers in early 2010, the company has maintained close contact with American intelligence agencies. But after the 2010 cyberattack, some believe that Google’s relationship with the US intelligence community has become too cozy. In February of 2010, the ACLU said it was concerned about Google’s contacts with the US National Security Agency (NSA). Other groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking access to the inner workings of Google’s relationship with NSA. Read more of this post

CIA hid terrorism prisoners from US Supreme Court

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Central Intelligence Agency purposefully concealed at least four terrorism detainees from the US legal system, including the Supreme Court, according to an exclusive report by the Associated Press. The news agency has revealed that the CIA secretly transported the four to Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp on Cuba in 2003, two years before it publicly admitted their capture. It then secretly transferred them again to other sites in its black site prison network in various countries around the world, just three months before their prolonged stay at Guantánamo would entitle them to legal representation. While at Guantánamo, the four prisoners, Abd al-Nashiri, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, Ramzi Binalshibh and Abu Zubaydah, were kept at a facility known as ‘Strawberry Fields’, which is detached from the main prison site at the bay. By hiding the four, the Bush Administration managed to keep them under CIA custody while denying them legal representation for two years longer than allowed by US law. It also concealed their detention from national and international human rights monitoring bodies and from the US justice system, including the Supreme Court. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #388

  • Political policing rising in US, ACLU report warns. A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union chronicles government spying and what it describes as the detention of groups and individuals “for doing little more than peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights”.
  • Mistrust still marks ISI-CIA ties, say US officials. John Tierney, chairman of the US House Armed Services Committee, told a Pakistani delegation that there is mistrust between the CIA and ISI, according to a report by the Pakistan Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence. Regular intelNews readers should not be surprised.
  • Britain releases secret document at heart of UKUSA agreement. Authorities in the UK have released a six-page document dating from 1946, which describes the “British-US Communication Intelligence Agreement”, known as BRUSA, later UKUSA. The deal has tied the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand into a worldwide network of electronic listening posts.

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #0286 (Internet edition)

  • Email trojan targeted at US .gov, .mil accounts. A Trojan-containing email, which is spoofed so that it appears to have been sent by the US National Intelligence Council, appears to have been directed solely at US government and military email accounts.
  • Analysis: Smuggling secret information through VOIP. Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) systems use a series of protocols to essentially create an open, unmediated link between two computers. VOIP applications also provide a way to make sure the packets are ordered quickly and correctly. And that’s a goldmine for anyone trying to send hidden messages.
  • ACLU concerned about Google-NSA partnership. Google corporation has turned to the US National Security Agency for assistance in warding off cyberattacks. But the American Civil Liberties Union is among several organizations that view the partnership as “troubling”.

Bookmark and Share

Released cable reveals CIA decision to destroy torture tapes

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The US Justice Department’s investigation into the destruction of videotapes by the CIA, which reportedly showed acts of torture committed during interrogations of terrorism detainees, began in 2007, but has stalled. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is spearheading what appears to be the only organized attempt to discover when and why those tapes were destroyed. Last year the ACLU uncovered that the CIA destroyed the videotapes in question after –not before, as the Agency had originally claimed– a spring 2004 report by the Agency’s inspector general, which described the interrogation methods employed on CIA prisoners as “constitut[ing] cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment”. Thanks to the ACLU, we have also known for quite some time that the decision to destroy the incriminating tapes was taken sometime in November of 2005. But now, with the release of a new batch of documents in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, we have the exact date that decision was taken: Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0254 (activism edition)

  • US activists file lawsuit over domestic spying. Anti-war activists in Washington State are suing military analyst John Towery and police officials for allegedly infiltrating and spying on two antiwar groups in Olympia. The suit also names the City of Olympia and a US Coast Guard employee.
  • Antiwar activist to stage sit-in at CIA HQ. American political activist Cindy Sheehan says she intends to stage a sit-in in front of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on January 16, to protest the Agency’s unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan. Sheehan, whose son was killed in the Iraq War in 2004, attracted international attention for her extended protest at a makeshift camp outside President George Bush’s Texas ranch.
  • Is there legal basis for CIA drone strikes in Pakistan? We at intelNews have asked this question before. Now the American Civil Liberties Union is asking it also, and has requested to see the US government’s estimates of civilian casualties caused by the strikes.

Bookmark and Share

FBI in hot seat over controversial use of informants

Craig Monteilh

Craig Monteilh

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, America’s primary domestic counterintelligence agency, is facing a storm of criticism over allegedly using informants to spy on Muslim and ultra right-wing groups. The most controversial of the two cases is arguably that of New Jersey talk radio host and blogger Harold “Hal” Turner, who has been described as a vocal supporter of white supremacist groups. Turner was charged last June for arguing on his blog that three Chicago federal appeals court judges “deserve to be killed”, and for posting photographs of the judges along with their work addresses and an area map of the Chicago federal courthouse. If convicted, Turner faces a $250,000 restitution fine and up to 10 years in prison. What is interesting, however, is that Turner told a judge that he was a paid FBI informant, code-named “Valhalla”, and was trained by the Bureau to infiltrate and monitor white supremacist groups. The FBI denied any connection to Turner, but The Bergen Record newspaper in New Jersey gained access to court records and verified the truth in Turner’s claims. Read more of this post